(UPDATE: a list of the best episodes from eps 94-140ish is now up. And a further update for eps 140ish-210ish is available too.)
It's not often I'm inspired to write by something I see on allkpop, but today, they ran a story that the producers of the SBS show Running Man had chosen their seven favourite episodes, so in a spirit of sharing I decided to do the same. Even though I'm a few episodes behind.
Bear in mind that most Running Man "episodes" often last for two shows, and I've put together thematically similar shows, just so I could fit more in.
And even then, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get it below eight.
1. Episode 7
The first time that the hide and seek game is split into hunters with bells, and the hunted without bells. This turns the game into a survival horror that's suitable for family viewing. The tension runs high throughout this game, with a twist in the tale that I didn't see coming at all. This was the episode that converted me from occasional viewer to rabid fan.
2. Episodes 52, 53 and 69
In this series of shows, actor Choi Min Soo begins by hunting down each of the cast one by one in the most exciting single episode (52) in Running Man. Episode 53 is more normal, with games and quests, but it does include Yoo Jae Suk's betrayal of Choi Min Soo, leading to episode 69 when he returns to torture Yoo Jae Suk.
3. Episodes 42 and 74
These are the two episodes in which the regular members of Running Man have to defeat each other. With no guest to look after, the gloves are really off, and the jokes and barbs fly thick and fast. Gary wins both times, first with an extra name tag, and then with his super powers of duplication.
4. Episode 25
Park Bo Young totally gets it. It's like a viewer's been invited onto the show and she takes part with all the games with all the energy and humour that we expect from the regulars. If Song Ji Hyo ever does leave (God forbid) then Park Bo Young would be a suitable replacement.
5. Episodes 2 and 3
Song Ji Hyo's first episode, and worth it for a game where the two teams have to jump from diving boards. Whichever teams jumps from the highest in total wins. Very exciting, since I suffer from vertigo myself, and an early glimpse of Kwang Soo's potential. Plus, two hide and seek games (and Yoo Jae Suk's VJ getting exhausted), a photo game and a football game. This two-parter never stops.
6. Episodes 57 and 58
Often Running Man has to make allowances for the guests, but not this time. These two really add to the show. Shin Se-kyung is half adorable and half super-competitive and Cha Tae-hyun is funny all the way through. He livens up the morning mission by just insisting everyone do what he says and dropping any pretence at secrecy at all. There's also an interesting final battle where members have the chance to bet on the winner, but it wasn't quite done properly, I thought. But I can't leave it out just for that.
7. Episode 79
The Sherlock Holmes episode. But to be honest, this is more Twin Peaks than Sherlock Holmes, since it features a baffling comedy group including a man dressed as a dog who never goes out of character and two guests who, in an attempt to not look suspicious, look really suspicious. This episode wins points for being well thought out, and cleverly put together.
8. Episode 60
This whole show is a set-up against Gary who thinks he's the spy. In fact, every one is in on the deal, and have difficulty taking his terrible acting seriously. Perhaps it's just one big in-joke for RM fans, but I loved it.